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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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Great Pyrenees amputation 3.5.12
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Winnipeg
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13 March 2012 - 10:47 am
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Sorry to hear that OSA was confirmed.  Abner sounds in great hands between your devotion and his vet’s.  This is a good place to be during this journey. We had great times with Tazzie following amputation that I would not trade for anything, despite his slow recovery and even though things did not last nearly as long as we might have hoped.

With these dogs, you learn to enjoy the moment.

Here and Now


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13 March 2012 - 11:43 am
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abnersdad said
I know I am in for a tough (and costly) road …

Recovery is indeed a roller coaster, try to enjoy the ride!

Sorry your last post required moderation, and thanks for the reminder to reset permissions for registered members!

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 March 2012 - 8:31 pm
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abnersdad said
I would like to invest in one of the harnesses that are made for assisting tripedal dogs but it seems like most require a stump of some kind where the rear leg was removed in order to secure them in a position that won’t rotate or slip.  Since his amputation was total and very clean he will have a nice round hip like before but no portion of the leg will remain at all to loop around.  Has anyone found a device that works well in this situation?  He is so eager to get back to normal life that it is clear to me that sooner than later this will be needed.

I’m so glad to hear he’s getting around so much better!  Please dont’ let the osteosarcoma diagnosis bring you down; many dogs beat the odds and some, like Eisen, for even four years or more. 

Ok, so as far as the harness goes. If you are referring to the Ruff Wear Webmaster harness, it isn’t specifically designed for Tripawds, but it’s the best one we’ve found for Tripawd dogs. And it also doesn’t have rear leg loops, so you don’t have to worry about that. Our Tripawd Wyatt Ray is a rear-leg amputee and the harness works terrific on him.

Other harnesses, like the Ruff Wear Doubleback, do have rear leg loops and so no, they are not right for a rear-legged Tripawd.

Paws crossed that things get better and better for Abner!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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abnersdad
19
14 March 2012 - 8:11 am
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Thanks for the harness advice.  I will check this out.  Abner is pushing to go farther on his outings each day.  He is taking fewer rest stops.  We are at the point where a total walk from the house out and back is about 800 feet with one or at most two rest stops, and I think part of what he is doing is pure delaying technique so he can hang out outdoors more.  He is nothing if not smart.

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 March 2012 - 9:00 am
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That’s great news. Nothing like fresh air to perk up a recovering Tripawd!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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abnersdad
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17 March 2012 - 10:07 am
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Today is day 12 and I continue to be encouraged by Abner’s remarkable recovery from his amputation.  He is so insistent on going farther on our walks, yesterday I took him to one of our most frequent hiking locations and walked a total of 1/2 mile, almost completely unassisted, with two rest stops along the way.  This morning we did about .4 mile in the neighborhood and I didn’t have to help him with the sling at all.  He seems to be getting both the rhythm of walking with only a single hind leg as well as the strength in the leg and in his back.


Bowel and bladder activity seems to have returned to normal as well although he is trying to figure out how to mark with only his left leg.  I am thinking eventually he will simply maneuver himself so he is always on the left side of the object. 


We are scheduled now to have his staples removed on Monday and to start chemo therapy on Tuesday.  I will be curious to see how he tolerates the chemo.  I have heard from the oncologist who has been consulting on Abner’s case that the particular protocol he wants to follow is generally tolerated quite well by the dogs on whom he has used it.  I guess we will see soon. 


This has been a remarkable experience from the blow of the initial tentative diagnosis of a disease I have seen take the Pyrs of three friends to the amputation which was probably more traumatic for me than for Abner, and now to the encouraging progress he is making toward living a normal happy life.  From time to time I may continue to post progress reports in case they might help others.

22
17 March 2012 - 11:33 am
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Hello and Welcome to Tripawds Abner and Abner’s Dad!! I became a member of Tripawds because my Great Dane (150lbs after amputation) was diagnosed with OS also. She was 8 years old at the time. That was in May of 2011. I was hesitant at first about amputation and thought I would rather use pain meds until it got too bad. But that time came way too quickly and I ended up going with the amputation. My girl’s name was Valentina. She was a beautiful wonderful Dog. Her recovery was long and very difficult. She had complications. It took about 5 weeks for her to start to improve but when she did she became the Dog I always knew. She could do everything she had once done except go for  walks. She could walk around the yard just fine and all and even play fetch but she could never walk long distances after the amputation. Especially on the hard road. Everything was going extremely well and even the vets were impressed that she had made it to 7 months after her amputation and she seemed so healthy. I was watching everyday for signs that the cancer had spread. I chose not to do the chemo for financial reasons and after her rocky recovery I did not want to put Valentina through anything else. I just wanted her to be happy and feel well for the rest of the time she had left. What happened next was totally not what I had expected. One day soon after Valentina’s 7 month ampuversary I noticed that she had a hard time getting down the steps to go outside. I thought she was just tired or stiff or something so I didn’t think anything of it. The next day while trying to take her out it was even worse and I  could barely get her out to go potty. Her back legs just started failing. She just couldn’t get them to go. I knew something was very wrong and on Monday I took her to the vet and they said that she had severe spinal arthritis and that her spinal nerves were being compressed. They put her on high doses of steroids and she stayed at the vet for 2 days. They told me she was doing much better and could walk on her own so they sent her home. But as soon as she got home I realized that she was no better. She could  not walk much at all. The vet said that on the car ride home getting in and out of the car must have aggravated the nerves again and that was why she was unable to walk again. He said that her condition was very fragile and not really treatable. He said we could readmit her and try again with the high dose steroids but since her condition was so fragile it would very likely return to the way it was. So I had to make the most awful decision of my life to put her to sleep. My husband and I had to try to carry her out to go potty and she could not squat to pee and was unable poop. Carrying a 150lb Great Dane outside is not an easy feat. She began to poop and pee in her sleep because she was unable to stand to go herself and she could not even stand to eat or drink water. It was so awful. From the time I took her to the vet for this problem to the time I had to put her to sleep was only 5 days. It happened so quickly and in an unsuspected way.I thought that it would be the actual cancer that would be the reason for her to be put to sleep. Not arthritis in her spine. She probably already had some arthritis in her spine before the amputation but having only three legs put alot of extra stress on her spine and since she was so big it was magnified. All of the awful parts aside I am so happy that I chose amputation for Valentina. Once she was healed we had wonderful times together and I am so grateful for those extra 7 months that I had with her. I don’t mean to bring you down with my depressing story but it’s hard not to tell the whole story when talking about Valentina. You and Abner are just starting out and it sounds like he is doing just wonderful! I know that you will make the very best of the time that  he has left. Good luck with the chemo and let me know if you need anything since we are fellow Giant breed Dog people. Abner is a really gorgeous Dog. I hope you have lots and lots more time together. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 March 2012 - 12:30 pm
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Dogs are just so much more resilient than humans give them credit for. But once you see how we handle an amputation recovery, you’ll never look at us the same way twice!

We’re so glad to hear things are progressing so pawsitively. Keep us posted on how he does with the chemo, I’m curious what type he will be getting. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 March 2012 - 1:14 am
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It sounds like Abner is doing so great!  He’s got such a sweet face.  There’s nothing quite like looking into the eyes of a pyr.  Pure love.

 

We’re routing for continued good health and tripawd progress.  It does take time, so be patient, but you’ll get more of your boy back every day.

Wags and Slobbers

Judy and Baby

abnersdad
25
29 April 2012 - 11:26 am
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Well as encouraging as the first two weeks were that seemed to be the end of the easy part.  On day 15 Abner had his first chemotherapy session with Carboplatin and it did not go well.  I had been told to look for nausea or diarrhea around 48 hours out from the procedure and was equipped with meds to deal with either.  Unfortunately Abner’s reaction was complete exhaustion after about 6 hours had passed.  For the next 4 days he could barely move.


He seemed to start to improve by day 5 but unfortunately has never really recovered his ability to walk unassisted for more than very short distances.  He got at least two and possibly three bacterial infections about two weeks out.  He almost definitely had a urinary tract infection, probably an inner ear infection and possibly Discospondylitis which is an infection of the space between discs and vertebrae.  He has been on Cephalexin for almost three weeks and still needs Deramaxx.  It is not clear whether the weakness in his hind end is due to pain in the remaining let, pain in his back, or disc pressure on nerves causing weakness.  It has been almost 8 weeks since his surgery and it is very frustrating and demoralizing to have him continue in this compromised condition.  We have suspended chemo indefinitely because he clearly is not strong enough yet to deal with another blow, and if we do start again we will probably try something other than Carboplatin and probably in a reduced dose of whatever we do try.  A week from tomorrow he is scheduled for a recheck with his surgeon just to get an opinion on what is going on and if there are signs of improvement.


I am pretty worn down by this whole process.  I had shoulder surgery on my right side not long ago so when we walk I have to support Abner with my left arm.  This is doubly awkward because he lost his right leg so I am always walking on the side where it is easiest for him to pee.  Some days are better than others and on his good days I am encouraged but often a strong day is followed by one where he has slipped back. 


I guess the only answer is to continue to use the nylon sling for as long as he needs it and hope that eventually he will regain more mobility.  At this point I am left to wonder if he would have been better off has I elected to just treat the cancer palliatively and helping him be comfortable for as long as he had.  There is no turning back at this point.  Nonetheless, I can’t help but recognize that the quality of life I thought this procedure and chemo would allow him has yet to appear. 

Rock Hill, SC
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29 April 2012 - 11:58 am
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So sorry to hear that Abner is not progressing as you hoped.  Some dogs just cannot tolerate chemo.  Zeus has also had a hard time with Carboplatin (not really nausea or diarrhea, but definitely lethargy and weakness – I could really see a difference in the effort to walk).  Fortunately a reduced dose seemed to do the trick for him.  Many dogs on this site have done extremely well with no chemo, so hopefully your vet can offer some advice!

Lisa

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

knoxville, tn
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29 April 2012 - 2:12 pm
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so sorry to read that abner is having such a wicked time, seems he has been given a very tough road to travel..  we’re sending our wishes for a turn in that road, and hope he can gain some strength and you can find some joy in your life with him.  sometimes our decisions cause us to second-guess, but know that you have always put abner first, and you have made every decision based on your love for him.  hugs to all.

 

charon & spirit gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends

http://etgayle

Las Vegas, Nevada
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29 April 2012 - 3:42 pm
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Oh no!  I’m so sorry that Abner hasn’t done well!  What a bad deal!

 

Please don’t start second guessing…even tho I seriously know how upsetting it is.  Just concentrate on getting him better and more mobile for now and put the cancer on the back burner.  First things first.

I know from experience of having a three legged dog and getting Diskospondylitis and how debilitating it is for them.  My Comet was around 11 years old when she was diagnosed with it.  She wasn’t a cancer dog but had a birth defect and was three legged.  She had a wellness xray and the radiologist said she had diskospondylitis in her neck disc.  She didn’t have any symptoms but a week later she screamed in pain.  We got better xrays and the second xrays didn’t really show it. However, we treated it like it was Disko.  She was on Cipro for life after that.  (this is what an ortho vet suggested)

I saw her mobility decrease dramatically after that.  BUT!  She got better.  It’s just been 3 weeks for Abner and as you know it may take 12 weeks of antibiotics.    The improvement for Comet was probably around 4-5 weeks.  And she took Rimadyl, tramadol and muscle relaxers too.  You may want to ask  your vet if you should just keep him on antibiotics for life and maybe mix a muscle relaxer in at night.  That’s what my ortho recommended. He also recommended hyrdo therapy which helped a lot.  We put a heating pad on her sore neck too.  And gave her daily massages.

I’m sending lots of pawstive thoughts for Abner.

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

29
29 April 2012 - 4:08 pm
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I am terribly sorry that Abner has had such a rough time with his recovery and chemo. I definitely know what it is like to have a very difficult recovery but I don’t know what it is like to have a Dog on chemo. I know how taxing it is to see your Dog struggling so much day after day and it seeming how there is no end in sight. It does seem to me that many Dogs on here have had problems with weakness and rear end functioning problems after being on Carboplatin. If it was me I just wouldn’t do any more of it even if Abner did get better. I would want to just leave him alone and let him be a happy Tripawd for how ever long he can. I personally don’t really understand why the vets want to start the chemo while the Dog’s are still recovering from such a major surgery. The amputation is already such a shock to their system and then to add chemo on top of that seems like too much to me. But since I am not a vet I don’t understand the reasons why they recommend doing this. I really do hope that Abner can get better after being defeated by the chemo and that he can be a happy healthy Tripawd. Praying for Abner to get better and for you to have the strength to help him through it.

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 April 2012 - 4:22 pm
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I’m so sorry things are so ruff for all of you these days. You made a good decision by stopping the chemo and focusing on helping him get stronger. Has he seen a rehab therapist to find out why he isn’t walking unassisted? I’m thinking that if you focus on his rehab to get him walking and have more endurance, things will pick up from there.

Paws crossed that things get better, we are thinking of you. Come back anytime to vent, that’s what we’re here fr.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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